Fuji Television said Friday it had a written agreement with cast members of its popular reality show "Terrace House" on how scenes would be staged and shot, after the death of one of them following cyber-bullying triggered a public outcry.
Terrace House came under heavy criticism and scrutiny after 22-year-old female professional wrestler Hana Kimura, who starred in the current series, apparently killed herself after being targeted by cyber-bullies. The show was also aired on US streaming service Netflix with English subtitles.
Fuji TV said that under the deal there was a provision in which members would have to agree to all instructions and decisions regarding scheduling and the way the scenes are shot, including how these are edited afterward.
The network said the agreement also states that if any cast member violates its terms and thus affects the production, they would have to pay for damages incurred, meaning at least the amount of production costs for one episode.
The TV network, however, insisted there was "no coercion" on its part, and the producers did not give any instructions to cast members that would have manipulated them emotionally.
Fuji TV also said that the production team did not impose on the cast to fully comply with all of its instructions.
Kimura's death in May spurred calls for an end to cyber-bullying and for more action to prevent and track down anonymous users posting defamatory comments. She had been subjected to a barrage of hateful messages on social media fueled by her behavior in one episode.
Kimura's mother has told the Shukan Bunshun weekly magazine that the production staff urged her daughter to make scenes more exciting, and that her daughter's actions in that controversial scene were stoked by the staff.
The mother also recently tweeted that she wanted as many people as possible to know the truth.
"Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020" was the latest in a series that began in 2012. It featured three women and three men sharing a house in Tokyo. Netflix says the cast members are "looking for love while living under the same roof" and that there is "no script" for the show.
There has been speculation, though, that the acting and storylines on the reality show were actually staged.
After the episode which showed the controversial scene in which she lost her temper, Kimura began receiving tweets including some saying, "Everybody will be happy if you are gone quickly" and "Never appear on TV again."
On the day of her death, the Yokohama native tweeted, "Every day, I receive nearly 100 honest opinions and I cannot deny that I get hurt."
Shortly before she died, Kimura had posted a picture of herself on Instagram with the words "I'm sorry," shortly before her death.
Following Kimura's death on May 23, Fuji TV terminated the latest series.